Joe Davidson

Why has Folsom’s football team been so strong? It starts in the trenches

Noah Lunday, kissing his Folsom High helmet, is a member of a strong Bulldogs offensive line that helped quarterback Kaiden Bennett account for 448 total yards in a win over Jesuit this past Friday.
Noah Lunday, kissing his Folsom High helmet, is a member of a strong Bulldogs offensive line that helped quarterback Kaiden Bennett account for 448 total yards in a win over Jesuit this past Friday. Special to The Bee

The mantra within the football offices at Folsom High School has been the same for years: Protect the quarterback and watch the fireworks and fun flow.

The offensive line play for the Bulldogs has been paramount to the success of this region’s preeminent dynasty this decade, fueling a machine to the tune of two CIF State championships, five Sac-Joaquin Section titles and six league banners.

Some of the linemen in recent campaigns have been national-recruit hulks such as Jonah Williams, a second-year starting tackle for Alabama, or Cody Creason, now seeing time at tackle at Arizona, or less heralded big guys with big grades and big personalities such as Kooper Richardson, now at UC Davis.

This season, the top-ranked Bulldogs offer up another formidable front, which has been the foundation to an emphatic 2-0 start, including a 55-9 rout of previous No. 3 Jesuit this past Friday. Recruiters have taken notice, too.

“We had a 99-yard drive, all runs, and that was against a really, really good team, so we’re really pleased,” said Folsom coach Kris Richardson, who doubles as the line coach and is the father of Kooper and Kaden Richardson, now starting at center for this Folsom bunch.

The other linemen are: Tucker Dunbar (6-foot-4, 285 pounds), Noah Lunday (6-1, 255), David Ruiz (6-2, 280) and Matt Frost (6-4, 255). Kaden Richardson is 6-1, 250, and he grew up around this. He sports his own look: long locks as compared to Kooper, who buzz cuts his hair, and father/coach, who shaves it to the clean scalp.

“Our line’s been really good,” the coach said. “We know we have to protect so we can do what we do.”

This season, that means unleashing Kaiden Bennett, who against Jesuit completed 18 of 24 passes for 336 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions and ran for 112 and another score.

“I couldn’t do it without those linemen up front,” Bennett said.

Folsom plays Modesto Bee No. 1 Oakdale on Friday at The Corral, one of the most energized football settings in the state in a battle of Northern California powerhouses.

Oakdale runs out of the wing-T, anchored by a strong offensive line.

Holy good fun – Holy Bowl XLVII is Saturday at Hughes Stadium, where another crowd of some 15,000-plus is expected to see No. 12 Jesuit and No. 16 Christian Brothers face off as both teams seek their first victory of the season.

Jesuit leads the series 30-14-2. Marauders quarterback Josh Farr is good to go after struggling with a bad foot against Folsom, not to mention trying to solve the Bulldogs’ attacking defense. CB is led by Gunnor Faulk, who dazzled in his Falcons debut, tossing five touchdowns in a 36-35 loss to Modesto Bee No. 2 Manteca.

Storied vs. Upstarts – No. 8 Grant visits No. 9 Capital Christian on Friday in what would in the past be a whopping mismatch. Grant is again big, fast and formidable with UCLA-bound lineman Niti Liu and other recruits such as lineman Oscar Umana and receive/defensive back Paris Warren, son of 1999 Bee Player of the Year Paris Warren, who later played at Utah and in the NFL.

But this is a different-look Cougars team that has dominated the Division V ranks. They have Division I recruits dotting the roster, including defensive back Maurice Gaines, running back D’Marcus Ross, lineman Evan Bennett and running back/linebacker Christian Simmons, who is out at least 6-8 weeks with a fractured fibula.

Sit and watch – Jalen Lampley is the star player for No. 10 Franklin, but he isn’t above the mandate of accountability. The versatile running back did not play against Laguna Creek due to a violation of team rules, coach Mike Johnson said, so he watched fullback Daniel Ross chug for 204 yards and three touchdowns in a 53-13 rout as Brandon Rundgren provided balance by tossing touchdown passes to Brady Johnson and Donovan Jordan.

BC vs. YC – Kudos to Bradshaw Christian, a small school always thinking big, for taking on larger-school Yuba City with a pedigree of success over the decades.

The teams met Friday at Bradshaw Christian, which broke in new stadium lights, and boasts of five smaller-school section banners since 2008 in seven title-game appearances.

Yuba City won 27-26 and improved to 2-0 when coach Aaron Gingery had Major Niccum run for the winning 2-point conversion with 1:14 left. Gerret Robbins rushed for 165 and two touchdowns, and Mateo Bromstead ran for 144 yards and two scores for Bradshaw Christian (1-1).

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD